WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Defense has launched a widely anticipated study of its options for meeting future U.S. military satellite communications needs, the Pentagon confirmed Jan. 6.

The so-called wideband  Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) study, which was expected to start last fall, officially began Dec. 23 after Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics, formally signed off on the effort, said Capt. Annmarie Annicelli, Air Force spokeswoman.

“The Air Force was designated as the lead component for the program,” Annicelli said. “We look forward to working with our industry and international partners over the course of the AoA to determine the best mix of military and commercial satcom to ensure the satcom architecture is resilient in a future contested environment.”

The AoA is expected to last roughly a year, and will likely be heavily influenced by goals and objectives set by the incoming Trump administration.

The goal is to inform future Pentagon decisions on military satellite communications. The Wideband Global Satcom program is set to deploy its final satellite in 2019 with the launch of WGS-10. The AoA will help the Defense Department decide what will follow WGS-10, be it launching additional WGS satellites or purchasing communications services from private companies.

Phillip Swarts is the military space reporter for SpaceNews. He previously covered space and advanced technology for Air Force Times, the Justice Department for The Washington Times, and investigative journalism for the Washington Guardian;...